Parents accused of ‘blasé’ attitude during school drop-offs

Mel Fearns, headteacher at St George's Primary School in Great Yarmouth. Picture: Victoria Pertusa

Mel Fearns, headteacher at St George's Primary School in Great Yarmouth. Picture: Victoria Pertusa - Credit: Archant

Covid marshals could help police school drop-offs as head teachers in Great Yarmouth raise concerns over parents’ “blasé” attitude to the pandemic.

Cllr Paula Waters-Bunn (Labour) said she was concerned that parents were not follownig 'simple instr

Cllr Paula Waters-Bunn (Labour) said she was concerned that parents were not follownig 'simple instructions' around social distancing guidance in schools. Picture: James Bass - Credit: James Bass

At a Great Yarmouth Borough Council meeting on November 4, councillors said they had received complaints about “a minority of” parents who refused to follow the rules.

Councillor Paula Waters-Bunn said the issue was particularly pressing given that schools would remain open during the four-week lockdown.

She said: “Many schools don’t have sufficient entrances to reduce the flow of children and parents arriving, and some have struggled to get parents to comply with simple instructions involving one-way systems and facemasks.”

Councillor Kerry-Robinson Payne said there had been problems in her ward with “parents acting blasé”, while James Bensly expressed concerns over “pinch points” at drop-off times.

Maria Grimmer, head of St Nicholas Priory CE VA Primary School in Great Yarmouth, has been working w

Maria Grimmer, head of St Nicholas Priory CE VA Primary School in Great Yarmouth, has been working with covid marshals and the police to help enforce social distancing at drop-off and pick-up times. Picture: Joe Norton - Credit: Archant


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Environmental health officer James Wilson said schools could be helped in the coming weeks by having “more bodies on the ground” - such as the newly-formed Covid marshals, and that he would reach out to them to offer support.

Ms Robinson-Payne said the marshals had been doing a “fantastic job” despite the torrent of “abuse” they had received from the public.

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Maria Grimmer, head at St Nicholas Priory in Great Yarmouth, sent a letter home to parents reiterating that social distancing reduced transmission.

It reads: “I would like to thank parents and carers for working with the school to ensure everyone stays safe... But I would again request that you adhere to the social distancing expectations of the government.

Niamh Payne and Lauren Randall, covid marshalls in Great Yarmouth, with the leader of the borough co

Niamh Payne and Lauren Randall, covid marshalls in Great Yarmouth, with the leader of the borough council Carl Smith (middle). Picture: Daniel Hickey. - Credit: Archant

“We have been working with both the police and Covid marshals to ensure waiting time is kept to a minimum.

“We are encouraging parents to wear masks, and it is important that there is no waiting outside the school gates once children are dropped off or collected.”

Melodie Fearns, from St George’s Primary nearby, said she had been “strict from the beginning” when it came to parents collecting their children.

“Our biggest problem is outside school hours - when we can’t influence parents’ behaviour”, she said.

Covid marshalls in Great Yarmouth have been helping at schools, and could be deployed to more of the

Covid marshalls in Great Yarmouth have been helping at schools, and could be deployed to more of them over lockdown. Picture: Daniel Hickey. - Credit: Archant

“We’re concerned that they’re simply letting their children ‘play out’ with other households when they get home, which undoes our efforts during the day.”

A spokesperson for the Inspiration Trust schools - Great Yarmouth, Stradbroke and Cobolm Primary Academy - said it too was “contacing families regularly” through letters and ParentMail, adding that they had been “incredibly supportive” when it came to following social distancing measures.

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